October Boy, the latest release by Tom Fisch is the polished, thoughtful work of an established Nashville singer/songwriter (his songs have been recorded by the Oak Ridge Boys and Swiss country singer Erica Arnold). So why include it in a SoundTrack review? Well, for starters, Fisch relocated to WNC in 2004. And his album was recorded here in Asheville at Chris Rosser‘s Hollow Reed Studios.
This 11-song collection is very much focused on Fisch’s writing and sense of narrative. Themes of love, nostalgia and time passing are recurrent, though Fisch manages to approach each from fresh angles and often cheeky humor. “You come home late and you come home early. You come home big when you’re feeling small. You come home straight and you come home curly. Sometimes you don’t come home at all,” he sings on “Speed of the Sound of Lonliness.”
Though the vocals are up front throughout, warm and simple, the instrumentation on October is nothing to sniff at — and it’s provided by a cast of Asheville musicians: Billy Cardine on Dobro and lap steel (especially lovely on “Carolina Blue Sky Day,” an all-around stand out track), River Guerguerian on cajon and percussion, Susan Robinson on claw-hammer banjo, Akira Satake plays banjo, Jay Sanders plays upright bass and Duncan Wickle adds fiddle. Rosser himself plays piano and is joined by his wife, Lynn, on backup vocals.
If the album errs a little toward the cloying bluesy folk of, say, James Taylor, Fisch turns out a slow-burning, J.J. Cale-esque “Midnight Special” with a crisp turn on harmonica. A “Time,” the second-to-last track, is a poignant meditation on life’s progress — an apt balance to the sweet, wistful, floaty end song, “Sometimes (In The Morning).”
Tom Fisch performs at Feed and Seed (3715 Hendersonville Rd., Fletcher, 216-3492) on Saturday, March 27. 6:30-7:30 p.m. Find more info and local dates at TomFisch.com.
—Alli Marshall, A&E reporter